Google and Hewlett-Packard have just announced that they will be teaming up to offer Google Apps for Business. The initiative is targeted at small and medium businesses. Google Apps is a suite of cloud-based office applications for creating documents and spreadsheets integrated into Google’s cloud-based file storage service.
Initially, cloud-based office suites were met with skepticism, but features like easy collaboration have slowly changed people’s minds. Recently, Microsoft launched its own cloud-based variant called Office 365, and Apple’s iWorks for iCloud is in beta.
With this move, HP will broaden its revenue stream. Google probably benefits more from the deal by gaining HP’s considerable relationships in the channel. HP has a rather significant network of third-party resellers that offer customized packages of products to businesses.
The move is not really surprising. In February 2013, HP started offering a low-cost 14-inch Chromebook. Chromebooks run on Google’s Chrome Operating System which are primarily designed to give Google Apps users a low-cost platform to run the service on. Also, HP unveiled the Android-powered Slate 7 and Slatebook x2 last month.
While HP executives characterize the new relationship as part of its broad business approach, this move towards Google was probably precipitated by Microsoft itself. Microsoft’s close relationship with smartphone maker, Nokia, and offer to help finance the Dell buyout, have probably caused some concern in HP’s ranks. Microsoft’s financing of the Dell buyout involves a new Windows licensing deal between Dell and Microsoft. On top of all that, Microsoft has started building hardware that competes directly with HP products, namely, the Microsoft Surface series of tablets.